Springfest is fast approaching and University Police Department is gearing up for what is sure to be a busy day throughout the city.
Saturday, Springfest will take over University Park, weather permitting. If the event goes on as scheduled, UPD is set to work in conjunction with the Grand Forks Police Department, the Grand Forks Sheriff’s Department, as well as the North Dakota Highway Patrol.
“We work in conjunction with the city on a daily basis,” UPD Chief Plummer said. “Not only the city, but the county of Grand Forks as well. We have a pretty good working relationship with not only local but state and federal law enforcements around here.
“With Springfest, what we typically do, is we will partner with the Grand Forks police department with operations. We provide a certain number of officers to help not only police the park but also the community around the park in conjunction with them.”
All of the UPD officers are cross-sworn with the city of Grand Forks, allowing them to have jurisdiction within the entire city of Grand Forks. UPD covers the campus district in Grand Forks, which consists of the entire campus as well as University Park.
Plummer is gearing up to participate in his first Springfest, having just come to UPD in October. His past experience working spring breaks in Florida does give him insight into what to expect from Springfest.
“You have some of the same issues that come up. Typically your alcohol issues, your drug issues, your public disorderly type issues,” Plummer said. “Not only those, but you have your emergency medical issues that can come up when you put people outside at an event in a small area. Injuries happen, life happens, heart attacks happen. People get sick. We have to be able to manage those issues as well.”
Lieutenant Meidinger has been with the UPD for 18 years and and is no stranger to Springfest. What started as a way to celebrate for those graduating has turned into a very large party for those at UND and people in the community, as well as those who travel to Grand Forks for the event.
“Specifically what the UPD does is try to have a good presence out there so we are very visible and hopefully as a deterrent try to keep everybody from making that poor decision,” Meidinger said. “We really concentrate our efforts on university property, from the edge of the park westward. There’s a lot of walking back and forth to the residence halls, the Greek houses, and some of the other close communities.”
The homes and residents close to University Park suffer the most when Springfest comes along, and UPD does their best to try and prevent issues that can arise in those communities.
“There’s a quality of life issue too, because you’ve got families that live in the community surrounding University Park,” Plummer said. “I think sometimes that gets lost in translation for people that are coming in to Springfest. We try to maintain a higher quality of life for those families that are there 24/7, not just for a 24 hour Springfest period.”
Over the years, the problems have moved from mainly being inside the park and spread out into the surrounding communities. UPD has also adapted to accommodate to these changes and found what works best for them.
“The increased visibility.There’s going to be lots of law enforcement out that day, we’ll be highly visible,” Meidinger said. “With Grand Forks PD, the Sheriff’s Office, UPD we all have extra people on. We’ll have a lot of uniformed officers. We’ll have patrol cars, bike patrol and some underage plain clothes officers in and around the park.”
Springfest is an opportunity for students to celebrate the end of the school year and the beginning of summer, and Plummer believes that it can be done in a fun and considerate way.
“People want to have a good time at Springfest,” Plummer said. “People want to be able to celebrate the end of the spring semester. Let’s do so in a thoughtful and more responsible manner.”